SPANISH GP – Sir Lewis Hamilton takes a fifth consecutive win in Barcelona following perfectly executed strategy

Testing & Race Reports

Sir Lewis Hamilton has become the first driver in two decades to take five consecutive wins at the same Grand Prix after beating Red Bull’s Max Verstappen by fifteen seconds to win the Spanish Grand Prix for the sixth time. The Mercedes driver perfectly executed his strategy to get ahead of Verstappen for the final time with six laps to go.

The two drivers were playing a game of strategy with the tyres, with Hamilton steadily closing the gap lap by lap during the second half of the race with him turning the twenty-second gap behind into a sixteen-second lead during the final thirty-three laps. Verstappen then dropped away from the Mercedes finishing fifteen seconds behind.

It proved to be a close battle from the start, Verstappen took the lead into the first corner after jumping Hamilton off the start Verstappen pushed his car further than the Mercedes in the braking zone forcing, Hamilton to back out to avoid a collision. Meanwhile, Valtteri Bottas lost third to Charles Leclerc early on for third.

But the pivotal moment came when Hamilton started taking a second a lap out of Verstappen with sixteen laps to go. The Englishman closing five laps later to within a second before diving down the outside to take the lead and then rebuilt his lead to fifteen seconds in the closing five laps.

Red Bull may be able to challenge Mercedes in the race, but it’s another thing to beat the most successful driver in the history of the sport. Verstappen had enough of a gap to retain his second place from Bottas. Verstappen knows that his record in Monaco is not as strong as Hamilton and the first street race since the start of the pandemic, could be another strategic battle.

The battle between the two was reminiscent of the race in Budapest in 2019, Verstappen leading at a circuit similarly difficult to overtake, where Mercedes also did two stops with Hamilton allowing the world champion to charge late in the race to pass the Dutchman and take the victory.

The Mercedes driver equals Ayrton Senna on five consecutive Grand Prix wins at the same race, and the countdown to a hundred now two away meaning the earliest point he can achieve that milestone is in the Azerbaijani capital Baku. That could be difficult with street races in Monte Carlo and Baku next.

Hamilton said, “I was just hunting. I was so close for so long and I didn’t think in doing that I was going to be able to make the tyres last. But I just managed to. It was a long way to come back from 20-odd seconds back but it was a good gamble, a really great strategy from the team.”

It was another race that proved how fine the margins are between Mercedes and Red Bull, the pressure however remains on Red Bull as they have been unable to capitalise or out strategies Mercedes at the last two races. That will be key in Monaco where overtaking is more difficult.

Verstappen said, “In a way, I could see it coming. Already with the softs [in the first stint], he was faster and then the mediums [in the second stint] he clearly had a lot more pace – he could stay within one second.”

Bottas was unable to stay with the leaders having lost the place to Leclerc on the opening lap, before dropping behind Leclerc following the safety car. He was told he was able in theory to catch Verstappen, but Mercedes instructed him not to hold his teammate up.

The safety car was brought out on lap eight after the Alpha Tauri of Yuki Tsunoda stopped at La Casa making it difficult to recover for the marshals.

Leclerc drove a strong race largely unchallenged but also unable to chase down Bottas for a podium, it is another strong sign of how much progress Ferrari has made at this kind of circuit. He was passed by Bottas late in the race following the Finns second stop and following a fight with Perez midway through the race.

The Monacan finishing the race nine seconds ahead of Sergio Perez and Daniel Ricciardo, with Carlos Sainz seventh last of the cars on the lead lap. Sainz fending off a late aggressive move by his former teammate Lando Norris in the final stage of the race.

Ricciardo having his best result for McLaren so far, beating his teammate Norris for the first time this season thus ending the Englishman’s three-race run of finishing in the top five. Norris was also given a warning for weaving when in combat down the main straight with former teammate Sainz.

Sainz spilt the two McLarens with Norris finishing in eighth ahead of the Alpine of Esteban Ocon and the Alpha Tauri Pierre Gasly. The Frenchman had received a five-second penalty at his first stop for being out of position which dropped him out of the points.

Gasly getting past the second Alpine of Fernando Alonso, as he tumbled down the pack as the life in his tyres saw the two times champion tumble to seventeenth ahead of both the Haas’s of Mick Schumacher and Nikita Mazepin.

Lance Stroll was eleventh with Kimi Räikkönen between himself and Aston Martin teammate Sebastian Vettel. German finishing ahead of George Russell, Antonio Giovinazzi, Nicolas Latifi and Fernando Alonso.

The two Haas’s were lapped twice in the race, again Mick Schumacher ahead of teammate Nikita Mazepin.

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